Art and Transformation
I have a large collection of books on my nightstand that is comforting to me. My two favorites at the moment are about the Goddesses of the Greco-Roman times and the archetypes they represent in astrology and also our culture today. One is called Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology, and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine written by Demetra George & Douglas Bloch. When I first got this book I briefly flipped through it and saw that there was a lot of breaking down of the different astrological aspects of the asteroids in the chart and I kind of put it into a category in my head as a reference book. As a result I didn’t dive in right away like the other I got at the same time: Pegan Meditations: the Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia by Ginette Paris. This is more of a book book, with a lot of detail on the subtleties of the different archetypes and how they manifest in our modern culture. Anyway, I’m not sure what inspired me to go to the beginning of the George & Block book but the introductory chapters really have stuck with me and I came across something so simple and timely for me that I’d like to share more here.
In this book, they speak of the Asteroid Goddesses as “Agents of Transformation” and break down the stages of transformation. I wont get into the astrology too much, but I loved the language used to describe this process and I was struck by how it relates to the stages of painting as I see it.
INTENSIFICATION OR COMPRESSING ACTION (Vesta) Vesta is the Priestess who watches over the eternal flame that doesn't go out. Similar to our own inner fire of passion and inspiration. But the Vestal Priestesses had a lot of confinement in their lives, because it is a 24/7 position to always keep the fire burning. So this first stage of transformation can be linked with a trigger that can be traumatic or uncomfortable. Like the feeling of frustration, loss, grief, pain or rejection, It is a feeling of discomfort that needs an outlet or seeks relief. Or it can be a fire that you must honor and tend. I see this as the impulse to paint or be creative. The desire to start a project or come to the studio to process some discomfort to make sense of something you can’t let go of. Or a sense of duty to act when your inspiration (fire) wishes to be heard.
STAGE OF DISSOLUTION (Pallas Athene) is next in the process. It is the release of the spring, letting it all out, breaking the limiting structures. In a life transformation it may manifest as a break up, leaving a job, or a change in a way of life. In the creative process I see it as the wild scribblings of all the ideas you’ve been holding on to and putting them into disjointed sentences or chaotic lines across a canvas. There is a new energy of freedom, potential and possibilities but also uncertainty and fear. This inspires the next stage.
RENEWAL STAGE (Juno) is a desire to rebuild or form new unions that are more expansive and serve us better than the feeling of chaos and unlimited freedom. In the creative process I see this stage as editing. You have pieces of the puzzle but things still need to be added and subtracted in order to create something with clarity and intention.
These simple stages really helped me to understand my process better and I hope that they may also resonate with you. I feel that we are collectively in the middle stages of transformation. Things feel chaotic and new possibilities are opening as others are coming to their ends. It feels scary and uncertain but at the same time we are breaking loose old structures that do not work and need breaking. I think experimentation is key. You just have to try things and see if they are the kinds of structures that will hold up to the integrity we all wish to express.